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December 7, 2019

Drawing On A Grain Of Sand


Sand is a naturally occurring granular material composed of finely divided rock and mineral particles. The composition of sand can be very versatile, depending on the local rock sources and conditions, but the most common constituent of sand in inland continental settings and non-tropical coastal settings is silica (silicon dioxide, or SiO2), usually in the form of quartz.

The second most common kind of sand is calcium carbonate, an example can be aragonite, which has mostly been created, over the past half billion years, by various forms of life, like coral and shellfish. It is, for example, the primary form of sand apparent in areas where reefs have dominated the ecosystem for millions of years like the Caribbean.


The study of individual grains can reveal much historical information as to the origin and kind of transport of the grain. Quartz sand that is recently weathered from granite or gneiss quartz crystals will be angular. It is called grus in geology or sharp sand in the building trade where it is preferred for concrete, and in gardening where it is used as a soil amendment to loosen clay soils. Sand that is transported long distances by water or wind will be rounded, with characteristic abrasion patterns on the grain surface. Desert sand is typically rounded.

People who collect sand as a hobby are known as arenophiles. Organisms that thrive in sandy environments are psammophiles.

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